Mohammed Miyan, head of a village in a region of Uttar Pradesh famous for its mangoes, recently found a natural ingredient that he says helps his orchard and earns him good money: cow urine (gau mutra).
Miyan says he uses cow urine as a pesticide at his orchard in Mujasa village in Lucknow’s Malihabad and to make ‘Amrit Pani’ and ‘Panch Gavyam’— plant-growth enhancers.
“Gau mutra is one of the best plant-growth enhancer and also an anti-fungal agent that keeps pathogens, known for causing diseases in crops, at bay,” he says.
Miyan says preparing the pesticide takes 19 days and comprises five varieties of plant leaves mixed with 10 litres of ‘gau mutra’ and 50 grams of cow dung.
“Amrit Pani is prepared with a mixture of 13 litres of gau mutra, 5 kg cow milk and 2 litres of sugar cane juice preserved for two days. Panch Gavyam is prepared by mixing 5 kg cow dung, one dozen bananas, 1 litre cow-milk-ghee, 2 litres cow milk and 10 litress of gau mutra,” he says.
C S Nautiyal, former director National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) says Amrit Pani is not exactly a pesticide but a repellent. “It doesn’t kill pests. Instead, it prevents their invasion. Cow urine has some unique characteristics that keeps pests at bay and also enhances plant growth,” says Nautiyal.
Miyan says he sells the growth supplements and the pesticide to Uttar Pradesh government’s agriculture department at Rs 70 per litre “The price is far less than the other products available in the market.” The money the agriculture department collects from mango farmers like Miyan is deposited in the accounts of village panchayats which in turn help farmers.
Miyan was trained under the central government’s Solid and Liquid Waste Management programme-- a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachch Bharat--for his cow urine initiative.
“The programme aims at bringing employment to the rural pockets of the districts. Under this, we are giving priority to the Open Defecation Free (ODF) villages and Mujasa is one of them,” says Prashant Sharma, chief development officer of Lucknow.
Sharma said the programme was going on in four villages and 12 people from each village were being employed under it. “The programme aims at taking the ODF villages a step ahead in development. It is also adding a source of income for the villagers,” added Sharma.
Cow protection and promoting products made from the animal’s waste forms a part of the Modi government’s ideology. A Bloomberg report in July 2016 said the government spent 5.8 billion rupees ($87 million) on cow shelters, intensified enforcement of beef-eating bans and tightened measures to stop the illicit sale of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh.